My oldest son turned 16 years old in December, and though I’ve had sixteen years to prepare for this moment I don’t think you’re ever really ready. For sixteen years now, I have been the one in the driver's seat. I have wracked up hundreds of thousands of miles driving him to football practices, friend's houses, restaurants and school. I have always made sure he was strapped in, prepared for whatever we were doing. I have done whatever I could to keep him safe. But now the time has come for him to get his own car and take off on his own. There is so much that goes through my mind when imagining my son now being a teen driver in our household. There' s a big part of me that is nervous and worried but we trust him and know he is technically ready. He’s taken his drivers ed courses, has had his permit for a year, and has been practicing his driving with us as much as possible, but the idea of him driving alone is still so nerve-wracking!
My wife and I have been discussing if we give him one of our old cars that we have kept around or if we should buy him another car such as a small pickup. I’ve been told by many before me that I definitely should not get him anything nice as odds are they will end up dinging it a few times here and there. Heck, If it were all up to me… I would buy him a beat up pinto with manual roll-up windows and no a/c with busted up speakers. Which is not too different from what MY first car looked like until I purchased one on my own.
However, my wife will not allow me to do that as she insists he needs a reliable, safe car that won' t leave him stranded somewhere. I don’t see what the big deal is since he’s a strong, capable teenager that can easily push a car if it left him stranded… The odds are he will be 10 min from our house either at Whataburger or at Klein Oak HS, so worst case scenario he can walk home. But I do also see my wife’s point and since it’s two against one, he’ll probably end up getting a good, reliable car.
The last thing I need to figure out are what rules I need to implement for him. Should I set a curfew, boundaries of where he can drive too, who he can drive around with him,etc..?. I don’t want to be too strict but he needs to understand that one little mistake could cause you to swerve far off course. When it comes to making mistakes on the road, the cost could be significant. I worry that no matter how much we drum this into his head, he--like almost every other teenager--are insulated with some self-protective mechanism that tells them "it won't happen to me." I know. I remember when I was the one sloughing off my own parents concerns with the right words on the surface. Parents out there with current or past teen drivers please enlighten me with helpful advice!
Overall, I’m looking forward to no longer being his UBER driver and making those late night trips to Whataburger for a Honey BBQ Chicken Strip Sandwich meal or a box combo from Raising canes, or both at the same time if he’s extra hungry. Then again, I’ll probably end up missing just that, as that was our time to catch up and talk about his day while I see him devour a whole meal before we make it back home all while he messes with my playlist to listen to his choice of music. Ahhhh… getting old definitely has its price, I guess!
As always, I hope my letter finds you great and somehow helps you with any upcoming milestones, remember “The days are long, but the years are short.” I know we’ve raised a good son and we have to trust that regardless of what car he drives he will be careful and respectful of the road. Drivers beware of another teen driver on the road that frequents burger and chicken fast food drive-thrus!